How Chloe's Chronic Illness Changed Her Life
By Chloe | @fibro_chlo | April 23, 2018
How Chloe's Chronic Illness Changed Her Life
I've been thinking a lot lately about where I am at in my life, not just with my health and my current situation, but also who I am as a person. A very common and completely true way to describe the way in which chronic illness changes you is that it makes you stronger, which it definitely has. But for me I've realized it has done so much more than this, and actually, I will always be grateful for the things I have learnt along the way.
In the past people would always refer to me as being 'strong' in certain situations, and when I look back, I didn't really know the meaning of the word 'strong'. I have always had a certain strength about me, being very head strong and strong willed - I'm not one to let a situation get the best of me. Having been these things already, they definitely served me well over the past few years, but also, I think I finally understand the meaning of the word strong.
If you think of strength in the same way as you would the strength in your muscles. If you want to increase your strength, you will work that muscle over and over, you will test it constantly by pushing its limits and only by doing that does the strength in your muscles grow. Well it's the same in life, it might not necessarily be an illness, it might be a new venture, or trying to achieve a goal. Enduring constant pain, fatigue, setbacks, disappointments, struggle, suffering. Having your limits tested, over and over again. Being pushed to that point where you feel like you are going to break - but you don’t, because as a rule in life, we are never given more than we can handle. Going through this, day in, day out, and never giving up - THAT is strength.
The kind of suffering many people endure with chronic illnesses really does change you, not only on the surface but at a molecular level. You learn to function at levels of fatigue and pain others would spend a week in bed for, you learn to get used to and put up with, a certain level of pain and fatigue that becomes so 'normal' to you, you stop realizing that it's not normal. The same way strengthening exercises harden a muscle, this whole process hardens your exterior. Things stop affecting you in the same way they used to, they don't get through to you so much. You become desensitized.
In the same way that failure and setbacks for an entrepreneur or sports person makes them resilient, tough, more determined, and often makes or breaks them. It is also the same with chronic illnesses. This is where I become so grateful for my experience. It has really reinforced my will power and my determination to achieve. It has multiplied my resilience, and most of all it has taught me that set backs are the key to achieving in life, because only with pain, falling and learning to get back up again can we truly become the best versions of ourselves, and achieve the destinies we were put here to realize.
In addition to all this, there are ways in which I have changed that reach so far beyond strength and resilience.
I am aware that this situation isn't great, but I have worked so hard in therapy and by myself at home, to achieve acceptance, and to be the master of my mindset. I have worked so hard to practice mindfulness and gratefulness, to stay grounded, and to remain grateful for everything I do have and to focus on the things that bring me joy, that I don't actually even see the things I do not have. I am so much more mindful and more grateful for everything. I can truly say I am an optimist, I am a positive person and I apply mindfulness, gratitude and positivity to everything I do. Even when I am feeling so awful, I have programmed myself to only see the good in a situation.
I have focused so much of my energy on trying to make the best out of a bad situation, to turn the situation in to something good, that I really have managed to make the most of my time and I have learnt so much. I read so much more, I watch talks and speeches from coaches on personal development, motivation, positivity, the universe, life, our presence, our souls. I feel like I am so much more in tune with myself as a person and with coming to understand my purpose here and being in tune with the universe – or God as you may say if you are religious. There is something inside me that just knows everything will be okay, I am learning to trust the universe and to let go of trying to control everything. I don’t stress about being ill or trying to get better, I don’t stress about money or my insurance case - that doesn’t seem to have made any progress since my accident 9 months ago. I feel so much more at ease, I have found a way of living, of seeing and thinking about things, that I just know, if I keep my positive mind set and my attitude towards life, that everything will be okay, everything will work out as I want, and as it is supposed to.
Along the journey of personal development and in trying to get better it has given me the opportunity to work on a lot of past issues. I am starting to feel more comfortable with myself as a person, I am working on learning to love myself and be confident and comfortable in my own skin. I have also always enjoyed being others ‘go to person’ and I knew I always wanted to help others, I just wasn’t sure how, and actually, through this whole unfortunate illness, I have been able to focus on just that.
Chloe has suffered with IBS and Anxiety for 10+ years. She was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in October 2016 after a two year journey to diagnosis with deteriorating symptoms. Chloe now dedicates her time to raising awareness for chronic illnesses, personal development, maintaining a positive attitude and helping to motivate others to stay positive and to fight to live their lives despite their illness/es. She has a passion for travel and is determined not to let her condition take this away from her (even if I can’t do much when I get there!).
Ig, facebook & twitter: @Fibro_Chlo